How many ways can you say ‘League of Mercy?’
TOP RIGHT: A soldier applies nail polish to the hand of a nursing home resident during a League of Mercy visit.
What do you think of when you hear the words “League of Mercy”?
While “nursing home visitation” may be your first response, it’s important to note that the League of Mercy provides a wide variety of ministry opportunities for members and touches lives in practical and significant ways throughout the Western Territory.
Lt. Colonel Marilyn Moulton, territorial League of Mercy secretary states: “I am impressed with the number of League of Mercy members and the contribution they make to this territory. League of Mercy ministry is the essence of Salvation Army ministry and has potential to transform lives both in our neighborhoods and the Corps.”
Corrine is in her eighties and has been involved for some time in the Cordova, Alaska, League of Mercy ministry. She pastors at the outpost, manages the thrift store, and is active in women’s ministries and community affairs. The highlight for Corrine is her visitation and ministry on the street or coffee house at or about 1:00 a.m.–a ministry she does regularly. She says that this ministry is what keeps her going! In Haines, Envoys Bob and Sondra Watson felt called to gather artificial flowers to take to the city graveyard. Many of the Haines soldiers and friends of the Army are buried just at the edge of the city. The corps officers took on this project as part of their caring ministry.
Captains Erik and Sylvia Hoogstad, former corps officers in Homer, established an account at their local thrift store for the needy residents of a long-term care facility. In Kake, Envoys Ned and Mary Ortiz held a prayer session with one of the village elders who wanted just to have a bit of help around her home. Following the time of prayer, they heard noise in the yard and discovered that local children had come to do some cleaning and lawn mowing. The elder was pleased and praised God for this answer to prayer.
Caring for body and soul
In Mat-Su Valley, corps officers Envoys Randy and Kristi Neimeyer maintain a food bank that serves several cultures. They minister to many Russian families who speak little or no English. They found a book that helps them translate so they better serve the clients.
The League of Mercy in Gateway has involved the youth in a special “grandparents” program. One Sunbeam spends time with her grandmother during Home League fellowship time; this helps the grandmother, who is not able to have her grandchildren visit at her home. Other kids have adopted grandparents from the corps. The lives of the children and the grandparents are enriched through these relationships.
From the Eugene Citadel Corps, Oregon, Major Joyce Takeuchi reports: “One of our seniors who has never been particularly friendly or interested in the corps’ teenagers, called one day. He asked me about the kids in the corps, if they had enough money to go to Youth Councils and Congress. He said he didn’t want any of them to miss out because of lack of money. As a result, he paid one girl’s way to Youth Councils and helped with another person’s expenses to the Congress. What a blessing he has become by allowing God to use him in a very significant way.”
Takeuchi also reports that the kids in the corps have drawn together to support one another because “We had two families who both lost their mother and another family whose father is dying of cancer. Our kids are facing really difficult times. We have spent a great deal of time praying with them, answering questions, and letting them know we care and love them. This has been our League of Mercy effort with our junior and senior soldiers.”
Captain Joe Thompson from the Hillsboro Corps, Oregon, had been on dialysis since December 1999. He used his three weekly visits to the dialysis center as an opportunity to witness to other patients and to the nurses and aides. Since his successful transplant operation in June 2002, many have raised prayers of joy and thanksgiving to God.
“Traditional” nursing home ministry
League of Mercy is traditionally associated with nursing home visitations. On a beautiful spring day in the Del Oro Division, the Sunbeam troop made such a visit to a local facility. The group of eight young girls, ready to share the love of Jesus, was surprised when the nursing home residents presented them with their own gift of love–colorful Easter baskets.
After enjoying a picnic in the shade, the girls distributed the bags of goodies that they had prepared.
They sang songs that expressed the good news of Easter, and then spent time meeting the residents of the home, who were cheered by these youthful messengers of God’s grace.
In Chico, the LOM has several members who go out and visit people who are stuck at home. They also have a telephone brigade who call people who are sick and they have prayer warriors who pray for all the above.
A practical love
The Modesto Red Shield, California, League of Mercy members have made many hospital visits. They visited a nine-year-old girl with pneumonia, took her balloons that said “Jesus loves you” and gave her a little pink stuffed piggy. She loved the balloons and shared with everyone who would listen that “Jesus loves you and so do I.”
For three days and nights, Captain Angela Strickland, the corps officer, visited at the hospital with a young woman who had lost her baby in the fifth month of pregnancy. The officer conducted a short service of dedication before they took the baby away. The hospital staff member did not call the woman’s church first–she called the Army because she knew, by God’s grace, that the Army would empathize and help this woman through her sorrow.
The San Francisco Korean Corps visited the detoxification unit at the Harbor Light Center; Methodist Church members from Santa Clara joined them in preparing meals and gifts–all worshiped together and heard testimonies from residents.
The Santa Cruz Temple LOM’s strongest program is their monthly visit to the homeless shelter. They were blessed to receive a new canteen to aid them in this ministry.
Remembering those in prison
In the Marshall Islands, the Rita Corps League of Mercy members visit the Majuro jail on a regular basis. They conduct worship services in which there are songs, testimonies and a devotional by the corps officer, Envoy Ongra Hanerc. They also distribute clothes to each of the inmates.
League of Mercy members from the Ebeye Corps visited the block jail, which at the time had nine prisoners. They sang hymns and shared God’s word. About 30 members participated and before leaving, they prayed and left gifts with the police officers to give to the prisoners. Members also made a private home visit to pay their last respects for a young girl who had been struck and killed by a large vehicle. She had been active in Sunbeams, Sunday school, and Sunday meetings.
Ministering to the bereaved is a large part of their caring ministry.
Getting youth involved
The Cheyenne Corps, realizing that some of the older League of Mercy members were no longer able to do visitations, turned to prayer for God’s direction. Inspired by God, the teens stepped forward and are now doing visitations.
The corps was blessed this past Easter when the teens participated for the first time with the Easter distributions. They did not just hand out War Cry’s, but initiated conversations and prayed with people. God’s spirit has filled these young people!
The Broomfield, Colo., League of Mercy members were blessed when they visited a lady who had recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This woman had been unable to keep up her home and the League of Mercy members cleaned, prepared meals and spent time visiting, comforting and praying with the woman.
During the Easter season, the Salt Lake Central Corps LOM visited different apartment buildings and shared the Easter message with the residents. The whole corps was involved, from the youngest to the oldest. During the Olympics, the LOM fed breakfast to the cadets who were volunteering at the Games.
Out of the ordinary
An Eastside Corps League of Mercy member, James Bryden, is so dedicated to his ministry of caring and visiting that he often gets to and from hospitals and homes by riding his bike. That may not seem so unusual, but this is the Seattle area–and that means he rides his bike in the rain! Praise God for James and his commitment to reaching out to others!
The Seattle Central Laotian Corps stepped out of the box when they went to visit and pray for a Buddhist monk who was sick–expressing both evangelism and caring!
“A friend closer than a brother”
As with any ministry, it is exciting when someone comes to know the Lord. Earlier this year a LOM volunteer from Bellingham, Wash., under the leadership of Major Judy Goodwin, had the privilege of leading a nursing home resident to the Lord. She became the resident’s “Mamma” in a spiritual sense and actually in a physical sense as well. All the resident’s family is located back east and she was desperately lonely and in need of connecting with someone. Not only did she meet a “friend who is closer than a brother,” she met a kindred spirit and godly parent figure in the League of Mercy volunteer who continues to visit her on a regular basis.
Remembering the elderly, the sick
The El Cajon Corps reports that one woman who lives in a nursing home had hoped that someone would come by to sing Christmas carols. When The Salvation Army showed up doing just that, she was overjoyed. Her enthusiasm was catching and others shared in her emotion and the love of the season.
The young people in the El Cajon Drama Troupe perform in local nursing homes.
League of Mercy members from the Herberger Center, Arizona, took three children with them to the Phoenix Veterans Administration Nursing Home. When the residents saw the boys in army fatigue outfits and the little girl in a tutu, they were so thrilled that they paid no attention to the adult visitors. The children gave the men and women socks, cards and lots of hugs. Several residents followed the visitors from room to room so they could get extra hugs. It looked like a parade!
A caring touch
League of Mercy members from the Los Angeles Central Corps provided manicures and hand/arm massages to residents of the Olympic Convalescent Center in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. Even though they often didn’t speak the same language, the truth is that caring for and expressing Christian love to people has nothing to do with language and/or culture–rather it is simply and sublimely this–the love of Christ at work in and through us.
The practical ministry of the Anaheim Temple League is ongoing. This group regularly provides transportation for seniors who are without any–to doctors, shopping, etc. One young woman also gives haircuts to several homebound women.
The Compton Corps’ LOM provided service to one of their own, a gentleman who was widowed after 62 years of marriage. The members assisted with funeral arrangements, prepared food for him in the early days and provided food items for the days to follow. Because of their love for this couple, the members spend a good amount of time “being there” during his bereavement.
Officially inaugurated in Canada in 1892, the League of Mercy was the idea of Mrs. Commandant Herbert (Cornelie) Booth who, with her husband, was a territorial leader. The ministry spread to the U.S. in 1905. Today it is international in scope.
The mission of this unit of The Salvation Army is to provide a spiritual and social ministry to the sick, the handicapped, the aged, the shut-in and those who are lonely and discouraged, whether in institutions or private homes. It seeks to comfort, cheer, and, when possible, provide material assistance. The League of Mercy always provides hope through an expression of God’s love.
This ministry is accomplished through organized groups and by individuals. By scheduled visitations, volunteers assure those they visit that someone cares for them. Whenever possible, they conduct activities and parties to celebrate birthdays and holidays, and they seek opportunities, with the appropriate permission, to hold Bible studies and/or religious services in the various institutions.
League of Mercy volunteers keep in their minds and hearts the basis for this ministry, which is found in Matthew 25:40: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” This is the League of Mercy motto.